In human and non-human primates, higher form vision matures substantially later than spatial acuity and contrast sensitivity, as revealed by performance on such tasks as figure-ground segregation and contour integration. Our goal was to understand whether delayed maturation on these tasks was intrinsically form-dependent or, rather, related to the nature of spatial integration necessary for extracting task-relevant cues. We used an intermediate-level form task that did not call for extensive spatial integration. We trained monkeys (6–201 weeks) to discriminate the orientation of pattern modulation in a two-alternative forced choice paradigm. We presented two families of form patterns, defined by texture or contrast variations, and luminance-defined patterns for comparison. Infant monkeys could discriminate texture- and contrast-defined form as early as 6 weeks; sensitivity improved up to 40 weeks. Surprisingly, sensitivity for texture- and contrast-defined form matured earlier than for luminance-defined form. These results suggest that intermediate-level form vision develops in concert with basic spatial vision rather than following sequentially. Comparison with earlier results reveals that different aspects of form vision develop over different time courses, with processes that depend on comparing local image content maturing earlier than those requiring “global ” linking of multiple visual elements across a larger spatial extent
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